Popping the Cork on Sussex Wine
This year, English Wine Week started from June 18th to June 26th 2022!
Did you know, Sussex accounts for about a quarter of the UK’s total wine production? This is thanks to over 50 vineyards which span an enormous 1,700 acres! There are multiple characteristics of the environment within the county such as the chalky soils, south-facing slopes, and long-growing seasons that are standard for growing the champagne grape varieties – pinot meunier, pinot noir and chardonnay. In fact, a selection of wine producers in Sussex have won the ‘Best Sparkling Wine’ award in a multitude of international competitions.
Back in 2016, Sussex was the first major wine area in the UK to apply to the European Union for Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and receive a protected regional status from the Department of Environment to ensure that only wine being produced within the county borders could claim the ‘Sussex wine’ name.
Despite the setback from the recent pandemic the wine producers have still managed to keep growing their field and take advantage of the lockdowns stay-at-home orders. Whilst vineyard tours and tasting sessions had to be put on hold, businesses found a way to make the most of being online, holding virtual tours and tasting sessions instead. There are also shops on each website to allow customers to buy the products from the comfort of their own home.
East Sussex is home to some fantastic vineyards. These include:
Since their first planting in 2005, the vineyard has more than doubled in size and now has nearly 100 acres under-vine stretching over Sussex. They craft their wines using the traditional method of production and strives to produce wines with the perfect blend of acidity, character, and aging. The family-run vineyard and winery have a passion for producing world class still and sparkling wines, and believe their wines rival some of the best in the world.
In 1969, David Carr Taylor purchased 21 acres of land surrounding his family home. This was when he and Linda Carr Taylor discovered their love of planting a vineyard and by 1971, they had a variety of wine grapes growing such as dornfelder, gutenborner, muller thurgau, reichensteiner as well as the classic champagne varieties chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir. By the summer of 1976, over 2000 bottles of Carr Taylor wine were produced and in recent years, they have obtained over 150 awards in international competitions, with their first award won back in 1983 for the International Wine and Spirit competition.
America Brewer, owner of Oastbrook Estate, is originally from the Bahia region of Brazil. One of her fondest memories growing up was from an ancient vine that grew up the side of her house which is where she says she found her passion for vines. She has settled down and now lives in the English countryside of East Sussex with her family, overlooking the Oastbrook Estate and the variety of activities on site.
The Rathfinny Wine Estate was first established in 2010 on a working arable farm with the intention to produce some of the ‘world's finest quality English sparkling wines.’ They aim to contribute something special to the part of the South Downs where they are located. Location is something crucial to them as the Romans claimed that the prime place to plant a vineyard was three miles from the sea and so they are situated on the same band of chalk that forms the Paris Basin in France.
Ridgeview have been producing their world-class sparkling wines for over 25 years on the edge of the South Downs in Sussex. They were one of the first wineries in England that solely focussed on the production of sparkling wines, paying meticulous attention to detail and their expertise in cool climate viticulture. The fruit they produce is excellently ripe and has a wonderful natural acidity. The philosophy in their winery is ‘minimal intervention’ whilst keeping control of the process to ensure excellent quality.
The mixed farm (home to vineyards; fruit trees; woodland; livestock) in which they are located on has a history that dates back to the 13th century. Whilst they stick to a lot of the ancient traditions and best practice that is learnt from millennia of farming and winemaking, they have incorporated scientific and technological knowledge into the business, making them what they say is their core philosophy - progressive.
There are many ways to enjoy the 'fruits' of East Sussex, so make sure you pay one of these fantastic Vineyards a visit.
Locate East Sussex has supported several Vineyards to access funding and develop their business for the future. To find out how we can help you, Get in Touch